Leonie Freeman: 2022, the year of self-isolation

As we embark on a new year, I have spent some time pondering the 12 months prior and reflecting on what has been a somewhat surprising but positive outcome for the property sector, with both the property market and the economy remaining very strong.

There have been hardships – with Auckland’s prolonged lockdown being one and the Government’s ill-considered commercial rent legislation being two – but also a wealth of positives.

Our work with the Construction Sector Accord has been a highlight, with the Accord providing a good platform for the property and construction sectors to have our voices heard, resulting in dedicated MIQ spaces and (perhaps more importantly) a better relationship with Ministers and officials. It is this relationship that has seen us progress our talks on build-to-rent as a pathway to providing more affordable housing, with more announcements expected over the coming months.

Key hurdles in 2022
  1. Uncertainty – making decision-making difficult.
  2. Disruption – particularly in workplaces where people will be forced to isolate, take sick leave and adapt as we continue through the pandemic. Now is the time to ensure your processes are in place should a critical member of the team become suddenly unavailable. Internally, we have dubbed it “the year of self-isolation”.
  3. Staffing shortages – both linked to the above unplanned absences and to the ongoing skills shortage. This is going to have a major impact on the property sector, limiting our ability to deliver projects.
  4. Supply chain shortages – this issue shows no signs of stopping and we expect this to continue to impact the cost of construction and therefore the feasibility of developments.
  5. Mass legislation – there is a huge amount of legislation coming, and while we believe the Government’s intent is good, there seems to be a lack of connecting the dots between the different parts of legislation that will impact our sector. Change can be good, but if we’re not all on the same page this mass legislation could cause serious issues.

To me, the big opportunities for our sector lie in three key places; housing (build-to-rent), green building/sustainability and how we manage COVID.

Our priorities

For Property Council, the top three priorities for the year are:

  1. Resource reform – primarily the RMA
  2. Climate Change
  3. Housing – which includes topics such as BTR, building supply, affordability, supply chain issues and materials costs.

If I had a magic wand, I’d ensure the private sector is at the table as this tidal wave of legislation is developed. Not just consulted at the end of the process in a baptism-by-media-release, but genuinely involved in the process so the policies are tested at various stages to make sure the theory works in practice.

We look forward to reconnecting with you.  However, the announcement last Sunday to move to Red on the COVID-19 Protection Framework means our team is currently working through our physical event schedule and will advise shortly on any changes. 

Ngā mihi nui.

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